The fitness industry has been hit hard by measures put in place as a result of COVID-19. But this is nothing new. Many operators have created outdoor training areas and online offerings, and they have shown a lot of creativity in developing solutions.
Operators have moved their equipment from indoors to outdoors, and let classes take place outside. Trainers are streaming their classes; PTs are sending out online training plans and equipment manufacturers are designing and building weatherproof equipment.
But is that enough? Aren’t there many more opportunities in the current situation, instead of just recreating the tried and tested in a different setting?
1. DIGITALITY IS NOT A TREND
Is it realistic to think that we can return to the tried and tested gym experience we’re all used to after the impact of the past 12+ months?
Providers’ services have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. They are now mainly:
However, despite all the digital solutions we have gained, have we lost something?
Sport and fitness have become lonely
The pandemic meant that sport and fitness were no longer very experience-oriented, and ultimately for many, became less fun because there was no sense of ‘we’. Individuals have had to rely on apps and online training plans to manage weight, prevent muscle loss and even for pain management.
The isolated nature of this has meant exercisers are no longer encouraged by their peers in group settings; they’re less likely to push themselves and reach or exceed their goals and hit new PBs.
Even the groups in which shared experiences were possible have been on hold, and this goes for the full spectrum of sport, from local and community clubs through to professional level.
But people still need this interaction, engagement and peer support, and the excitement and enjoyment that comes from exercising in a group will be even stronger as COVID restrictions are lifted.
2. DIGITALITY IS REALITY
Digital on-demand services are the new normal, both during and likely after COVID-19.
No one will question the expensive home trainer, the remote coaching with the PT, the expensive membership for the online indoor cycling club. During the pandemic, we’ve had no other option than to give ourselves fully to this form of exercising.
The biggest question now is: will this pattern of use continue when gyms (and alternative sporting activities) once again become part of our everyday lives? Or will the gyms remain empty after they reopen?
Certainly not. People follow people. People are looking for people. And this is the case now more than ever!
3. STARTING SIGNAL AND DEPARTURE
So in the future, digital offers will complement the portfolio of the fitness industry and its users (equipment manufacturers, fitness studios, members) like a new family member.
This should also put a smile on the face of the operators. Before COVID-19, only a small number of clubs were able to meet the demands with digital programmes. The last 12 months were used by many studios to upgrade, try out, develop the trainers and the technology and create targeted offers.
Similarly, in the last 12 months, technical problems, app updates, and poor picture and sound quality in streaming were forgiven. On both sides of the streams, people were allowed to learn and try things out.
However, in the new “post-Covid era”, this is the new standard that every club must meet.
Here lies the biggest opportunity for the fitness industry in recent decades. Let’s see the lockdown as:
- Starting signal and departure of the analogue fitness world into the digital future
- An opportunity to establish new concepts in the studios.
4. CHALLENGE TARGET GROUPS
Over the coming months, facilities need to focus on two key elements: the safe conduct of training sessions, as well as adherence to hygiene rules, in parallel with the development of new social groups within the studios.
Previously existing groups (e.g. pumpers, class participants, cardio lovers) may now find they have different attitudes – even within their groups – as a result of the pandemic.
Once it is recognised that a digital offering can support the portfolio, it is important to create an offer in the studio that facilitates the restructuring of the members into a group.
This is because the previous allocation by members according to their motivators and preferences such as data, facts and figures; innovation diversity; target achievement and group dynamics no longer count exclusively.
5. THE NEW MINDSET
We must now recognise another filter, as described above: the new mindset of our members. This manifests itself in how members see, act and behave in the gym.
So, we realise that there are people who are motivated by different goals, and this has to be flexible in this current situation.
Since we can’t have a 1:1 conversation with every single member, it helps if facilities can provide members with opportunities to choose where they want to reassign themselves according to current events.
When forming new groups, it is therefore important to achieve a quick allocation according to objectives.
6. THE CHANCE NEWCOMERS
Health, as well as staying healthy, is on the priority list of members this year like never before. New prospective members will visit gyms and health studios to look for opportunities for a suitable training location. To catch the “newbies” here, they need a lot of support, help and guidance.
There are some basics to consider here:
The redesigned concept/offer should:
- Have a low-threshold (to be experienced by every level of performance)
- Be epidemiologically justifiable (number, distance, intensity)
- Create a “we” feeling (enable courses with fixed participants for community building)
- Ensure health success (include progression in programming, conduct testing)
- Made fun (ensure ease of implementation)
In order to meet the requirements, the concept, whether already existing or planned as an innovation, should be adapted to the above-mentioned requirements.
From an epidemiological point of view, the following groupings or forms of training can be mapped in the Official Hammer Strength Box:
1:1 Personal Training
1:3 Small Group Training (3 participants)
1:12 Group fitness (12 participants)
By being safety-relevant and offering a group dynamic at the same time, we introduce a new concept here, which makes it possible to bring together a new group of interested people.
In the future, together with the operators, we would like to give fitness a new responsibility. The future demands a redefinition to support society. We should use this time to give something back.
Together, let’s see the post-Covid era as an opportunity to kick-start and develop innovations and restructuring.
**Blog has been recreated from Life Fitness and the original blog can be seen here.**